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Can a person receive his retirement benefits after surrendering his green card? Worked here legally for 40 years.

Vallejo, CA |

My bro-in-law from Philippines worked here legally with a green card for 35 - 40 years. He stayed away too long in Philippines caring for mother. When he returned, agents siezed his green card. He is in his 60's. He went to SSA and applied for retirement. They refused because he no longer has a green card. He will probably never get it back because he has no relatives in U.S. to claim him. If, after paying social security taxes for all that time and being legal the entire time, can they really deny him his benefits?

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Attorney answers 3


To receive SS benefits, a person must be in the US under a lawful status.

That being said, some questions remain. A person does not lose his/her legal permanent residence status that easily. They have to appear before an Immigration Judge, and the Judge has to rescind the status. When did he return? Did he go before an Immigration Judge?

Best thing would be for him to consult with an Immigration attorney right away. Only after resolving this issue will he have a chance of getting his SS benefits.

[This answer is for general purposes only; it does not constitute advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.]


More information is needed about what exactly transpired. This is a matter that is very serious and best handled in a consultation with an immigration lawyer. Some questions are Avvo-appropriate, but this is not one of them.

If you appreciate the time spent preparing this answer, kindly consider marking it BEST HELPFUL. Good luck to you.

Dean P. Murray
The Murray Law Firm
560 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
T: (201)875-2600
F: (201)549-8700

Mr. Murray's response is NOT legal advice and does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. You should NOT rely on this response. Mr. Murray's response was generated without conducting a full inquiry as would occur during a face to face attorney-client consultation. It is likely that the response above may be made less accurate, or become entirely inaccurate, as you, i.e. the questioner, disclose additional facts that should only be discussed during a private consultation with an attorney. I strongly recommend that you consult an attorney who is licensed to practice law in your state (or, in the case of immigration law, and attorney in ANY state), whereupon all relevant facts will be discussed. All responses posted by Mr. Murray on are intended as general information for the education of the public, and not for any specific individual.


He needs to talk with an immigration attorney ASAP to discuss his legal options.

Good luck.

DISCLAIMER: David J. McCormick is licensed to practice law in the State of Wisconsin and this answer is being provided for informational purposes only because the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship.